A portion of Rwanda’s ICT budget in the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2020, will be used to support emerging technologies, among them, blockchain.
The plan is contained in the “Emerging Tech Policy and Strategy” of the Ministry of ICT and Innovation.
The strategy is designed to leverage fourth industrial revolution technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and blockchain among others.
The plan was revealed on Wednesday, December 11 by Paula Ingabire, the Minister of ICT and Innovation during a monthly meeting with Rwanda Blockchain Community.
“Blockchain, just like the whole list of fourth industrial revolution technologies is one of the areas that we are very supportive of as a government and how we build that industry and grow it over time,” she said.
Accelerating the development of new technologies such as blockchain— a shared ledger that can be used to record and share information in real-time—will bolster the country’s aspirations of becoming a continental hub for innovations.
For more than a year now, the National Bank of Rwanda and Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority (RURA) have established a sandbox facility around blockchain technology to test the technology.
In an effort to support innovation, the Minister said, the government is keen on easing restrictions on tech start-ups.
Other countries are massively investing in new technologies, she stated.
She observed that blockchain has the potential to help Rwanda develop areas such as healthcare systems, value transfer and tourism among others.
Last year, Rwanda announced the world’s first blockchain project to track tantalum from the pit-face to the refinery as part of the effort to raise investor confidence that the country is a conflict-free source of minerals.
The project is the work of Circulor, a British start-up specialised in blockchain, and miner-refiner Power Resources Group (PRG), which has mining and refining operations in Rwanda and Macedonia.
It follows other blockchain initiatives such as SPEN, a mobile banking application that enables Rwandans to make a range of financial transactions.
In 2017, the country had also announced plans to use blockchain technology in land registration as it stepped up efforts to end land disputes.